- - Thursday, August 3, 2017

Liberals are launching a campaign to demonize and delegitimize one of President Trump’s key policy initiatives for purely partisan ends.

No sooner had Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia joined Mr. Trump Wednesday at the White House to promote their Reforming American Immigration for Strong Economy (RAISE) Act than calls of racism and xenophobia came flooding in from Democratic members of Congress and liberal pundits alike.

Do liberals think nations such as Canada, Japan, Britain and Australia are pursuing “racist” immigration policies? All have had merit-based immigration systems in place for decades. In some cases they created a point system where education level, skills and experience are given extra weight. For instance, Britain created a ranked system where one entire tier was eliminated after British officials decided that they would no longer allow unskilled immigrants to enter from outside the European Union.

For too long the U.S. immigration system has focused on accepting low-skilled immigrants. Basic economics tells us that the surge of low-skilled workers depresses wages and harms the prospects of American workers. While low-skilled immigrants have a place in our economy, a greater priority needs to be placed on attracting high-skilled immigrants to match the economy’s needs.

As Mr. Perdue said at the White House, “We want to welcome talented individuals from around the world who wish to come to the United States legally to work and make a better life for themselves.

“The RAISE Act will create a skills-based system that is more responsive to the needs of our economy and preserves the quality of jobs available to American workers.”

The bill faces a tough road ahead in Congress. Sixty votes are needed in the Senate for the bill to pass, and several Republican lawmakers have already come out in opposition. Sen. Lindsay Graham, South Carolina Republican, said that the bill would be “devastating to [South Carolina’s] economy,” and Arizona GOP Sen. Jeff Flake expressed his concerns with the sharp cuts to the number of legal immigrants.

Many companies, most notably in the technology sector, also oppose the bill. The Information Technology Industry Council, a leading technology trade organization, argues the measure would be bad for innovation and recruitment.

The Cotton-Perdue bill focuses on just one part of the immigration reform puzzle. The idea of cutting the number of legal immigrants by half needs to be evaluated to ensure that the number of legal immigrants is not stagnant but responds to our changing economic needs.

There is also a need to revisit the guest-worker program that is particularly vital to the agriculture sector. Canada has successfully implemented a guest-worker program, which may serve as a model for the U.S.

The bill’s announcement came as something of a surprise, which did not give the supporters much of a chance to organize early support.

Holding listening sessions with the various industry and minority groups who are most affected will provide valuable feedback, along with a chance to build broad support.

While the RAISE Act is the start of reworking and modernizing our immigration system, the legislation will be difficult to pass in Congress, which means further delay in significantly changing our immigration system. Our outdated immigration system only hurts the American worker, and a merit-based system could help balance the skills we need to preserve our prosperity.

Mercedes Schlapp is a Fox News contributor, co-founder of Cove Strategies and former White House director of specialty media under President George W. Bush.

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